Using
Movie Clips In Your Animations

After reading Hillman Curtis's great book "Flash Web Design", I too started experimenting with using Videos in my animations. And anyone who has any interest in it can too. You don't even need a video camera at all. Just go to the web and download some royalty free QuickTime Movie clips (for free) and add them to your animation. So, below you'll see an example I did by using QuickTime 4's Sample Movie.

 

 

I'm sure many of you who have QuickTime 4 installed have the movie as well, but just to be safe, I'm offering the movie in a zipped format for you to download. The file is only about 60k in size. 

Once you unzip the file, I highly recommend creating a separate folder on your Hard Drive for this tutorial. Ok, so let's get started. First, let me say that this tutorials is basically in two parts.

  1. Importing Movie Clips and Exporting As Sequence of Images
  2. Using Movie Clips In Your Animations

We'll first start of with learning how to Import Movie clips and Export them as a series of images. 

  1. Launch Flash 5 and go to Modify > Movie. Set the Movie's width and height to 200 x 240 respectively. Then import the QuickTime movie by clicking on File > Import. Browse to the folder where you have the "Sample.mov" on and Import it by pressing the "Open button". See image below:

  1. Once you have imported the movie, place it in the drawing area as perfectly as possible. Use the Info panel to help you in making the movie fit snugly in.
     
  2. Now you should see the movie in the Drawing area. Now here comes the easy but confusing part; keep adding blank frames (F5 Or Right Click > Insert Frame) on the first layer until you see a big "X" on the movie clip. If you're FPS is set to 12, then the you should see the "X" on after Frame 37. See image below:

  1. Not too difficult now was it? Now, here comes the most important part....Exporting the movie into a form it can be used quite easily in Flash. Go to File > Export Movie. From the drop down list, choose "JPEG Sequence". I recommend creating another folder for this by the way. Give it a short name and click "Save". See image below:

  1. Once you click save, you should see a box asking for some information like quality, size, etc. For best results, I recommend using the image quality setting of "75". See image below:

 

Click Ok, and the movie should now be exporting itself into a series of JPEG movies. You may want to go to the folder where you exported the movies to and see about 36 individual images in the JPEG format.

Now that you have imported and exported the QuickTime movie clip, it's time to actually make all the JPEG images to good use. If you haven't yet exported the images, please go back to the previous page. So, if you've been following along with me, let's continue.

  1. First, create another new movie in Flash 5. Once you have done that, insert a new symbol. Go to Insert > New Symbol: Movie Clip. Give the movie clip a name also if you wish. See image below:

  1. Once you click OK, you should see another Timeline that is similar to the main timeline. So, let's begin to import the images from our QT (QuickTime) Jpeg sequence.
     
  2. Go to File > Import. Navigate to the folder where you have stored all the JPEG sequences. Highlight every ODD NUMBERED IMAGE by using Ctrl+ Left Mouse Click. That is still a lot of images. If your Library hasn't opened up, open it by going to Window > Library (or by pressing Ctrl + L). See image below:

  1. Here is the most important part. If you look at the library, you'll see a lot of images. That is way too many images that should be in an animation targeted for a vast majority of dial-up users. You'll learn how to remove unwanted, extraneous images
     
    1. Even though you only imported odd numbered images, there are still too many images. Briefly click on each image and look at its sample that should be visible on the Library's preview window. 
       
    2. Once you have previewed all the images, do you see a lot of the images being static or not moving. The first few frames and the last few frames stay stationery during most of the movie itself. You'll have to remove a lot of these extraneous images.
       
    3. The images I deleted are as follows: Image no: 0001, 0003, and all the images after 0015. That eliminated well over half of our extraneous images. Now, we can work with this quite easily.
       
  2. Once you "pruned" out all the extraneous images, here comes the painful task of arranging these images. Insert about 10 blank keyframes. Delete the image that is visible in the drawing area (if you have an image in the drawing area). Now, slowly drag and drop each image into the respective blank keyframes. Here's is a tip to help you out:
     
    1. First, drag the first image onto the first blank keyframe. Once you have done that, the blank keyframe becomes solid once again.
       
    2. Next, drag the second image and drag it ON TOP OF THE FIRST IMAGE on the first keyframe itself. Align the edges of the second image to match that of the second image. Then, press Ctrl+X. That should cut the image and make you see the first image again. Click on the 2nd blank keyframe. Now press Ctrl+Shift+V. That should paste the image in the same location that you cut it from. Now, when you test the first two keyframes, you should see the images in the same area. That helps out tremendously when you're working with large movies, etc.
       
  3. Once you have added all the images onto the keyframe in a way that actually animates. In other words, you cannot skip around in choosing which image to use or not use. You have to follow the same consecutive pattern in setting the images in a series on your timeline. Once you have done all that, your movie should look like my image below:


The image has been edited to fit on this screen

  1. Now, you're done with the movie symbol you created at the beginning of this section. Click on the "Scene 1" icon on your top-left to be taken back to the main page. To add this movie to your main scene, go back to the library and drag the movie clip that you named onto the main timeline. You should see the first keyframe of the movie only. See image below:

  1. That is all there is to importing, exporting, re-importing, and using a movie clip in Flash 5. You can now use that movie clip in your animations as you would any regular movie clip. You can go back to the library and try to optimize the images more by right clicking on them and choosing Properties. 

Also, you may be wondering...why do we need to do all this for the movie? We could've just imported the movie in Flash and left it in the quick time format. For this example, we could've left it that way. But, to get the most out of imported movies,  you can add some interactivity. You could use "Tell Target" and make only a certain part of the movie play at a certain time. You could introduce variables and not make the movie play until you define it to. There are limitless possibilities.

One last bit of information: Flash 5 cannot import AVI (Windows Movie Format), but Flash 5 can export your animations (if you wish) into the AVI format.

Download the Final source if you want to know how my animation turned out.

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If you didn't like it, I always like to hear how I can do better next time. Please feel free to contact me directly at kirupa[at]kirupa.com.

Cheers!

Kirupa Chinnathambi

 

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